The outrage in China over USA hotel giant Marriott's gaffe in which it listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as independent countries, has spread to a clutch of other well-known global brands as angry internet users sought to "expose" foreign businesses for not respecting Chinese sovereignty.
The Cyberspace Administration of China has blocked access to the Marriott hotel chain's website as punishment for geographical descriptions which challenge the People's Republic of China's sovereignty and territorial claims.
Marriott apologized profusely, saying it respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.
Caixin Global reports that Marriott's including Tibet in the drop-down list was particularly offensive to Weibo commenters as other brands from overseas have previously also listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as "countries" in an English-language context.
Taiwan and the mainland split in 1949 after a civil war but the Communist Beijing government claims the island as its territory.
The Shanghai government said it had asked Marriott to "take down all relevant content, conduct a thorough check on all contents it posted on its website and online application to prevent anything similar, and address the public's concern in a timely fashion to eliminate a negative impact".
The statement said the company has corrected the improper actions and checked its websites and mobile apps for other possible errors and will fully cooperate with investigations launched by the Chinese authorities.
Zara added a three-sentence statement to its website expressing "sincere apologies" and said it would conduct a "self-examination". "We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize".
"Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International in a statement.
Marriott's troubles should also drive home for foreign businesses operating in China or hoping to cater to Chinese tourists that understanding how Beijing understands history is key to not running afoul of the Chinese government.
A foreign submarine was also detected in the same area on Wednesday as well as on Thursday, according to Japan's Defense Ministry. Relations between Japan and China deteriorated in 2012 when Tokyo "nationalised" some of the islets.
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